Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Published Scientific Papers - Short Report

I hope this is friendly enough and constructive enough. And I hope, more than anything, that this is correct... haha.
Cultural Gaze Behavior to Improve the Appearance of Virtual Agents
Nikolaus Bee and Elizabeth Andre
University of Augsburg
Institute of Computer Science
Augsburg, Germany


A virtual agent is usually a program that serves as an online customer service representative for a company. They have the appearance of a human and respond to customer questions. Thus, they are useful in customer relationship management.

The paper is about studying the eye gaze behavior of different cultures to improve the interaction of virtual agents. Here, the authors believe that eye gaze is important when communicating with a virtual agent. The paper aims to measure users’ eye gaze and build a gaze awareness model that could be applied during human-machine (user-virtual agent) interaction.

To improve the interaction between humans and machines, Andre and Bee conducted an experiment where they grouped the functions of eye gaze into five: providing information, regulating interaction, expressing intimacy, exercising social control, and facilitating service or task goals. They also studied the eye gaze of different cultures to mediate the eye gaze of virtual agents so that it would go well with humans from different cultures during interaction. By using eye trackers, they plan to monitor the users’ eye gaze during the human-machine interaction close to real-time.

Bee and Andre reached the conclusion that it is difficult to provide standardized results in eye gaze behavior. This is due to the absence of a norm to study the eye gaze of different cultures and the studies conducted before having different goals. However, they were able to produce a set of findings that can help implement models that are aware of strong cultural distinctions.


I would like to begin my evaluation with the Abstract of the paper. It was only one paragraph but it was enough to catch my attention. It was the first thing I read that made me want to read the rest. The abstract was brief and interesting. They stated their goals for the paper and their reasons for doing the study. However, I don’t think they included a summary of their methodology in the abstract.

The rest of the paper was more of a compilation of related literature about eye gaze and human-machine interaction. I am not sure if they performed anything technical in this study, but based on what I’ve read, the study is mostly observational, thus social. I think, if this will be continued to further research, it can be considered an example of what RSG said about a combination of social and technical research. This first paper is probably more of observation, building up their literature. The authors mentioned somewhere in the paper that they “plan” to monitor the users’ eye gaze using eye trackers- this is probably the next technical step for the study.

Regarding the format, the paper did not follow the standard format that we learned in class. However, it did have the Abstract and Conclusion. A large part of it was the related literature. I don’t see anything wrong with the format because I think it was organized and well-presented so it doesn’t matter if it didn’t follow the standard.

Knowledge Production in Nanomaterials:
An Application of Spatial Filtering
to Regional Systems of Innovation

Christoph Grimpe and Roberto Patuelli


This paper was quite difficult to summarize, but I’ll try my best. Nanotechnology has been identified as one of the key technologies of the 21st century and is believed to contribute substantially to innovativeness, economic growth and employment. Thus, it is important for regions to put their own innovations in place to be able to benefit from the growth expected from nanomaterial applications.

Grimpe and Patuelli investigated what conditions and configurations allow a regional innovation system to be competitive in cutting-edge technology such as the nanotechnology. To determine how many localized research and development in the public and private sector, they analyzed the nanomaterial applications data at the European Office, German district. They also used spatial filtering approach and the knowledge production function framework to analyze the results of their study.

Based on the results, it was found out that there was a favorable specialization in chemistry and electronics, two fields that are closely related to nanotechnology, and thus, regions should try to attract firms interested in these two areas. “Nanoparks” are also more concentrated on urbanized regions than in medium/rural regions. Finally, they found out that nanomaterial productions seems to be more dependent on human capital and specialization than in size.


I will begin by saying that I think this is a very complicated but good research. Complicated in the sense that I can barely understand the terms and the methodologies used – I had to do further research about those. It is also good in the sense that the topic is current – nanotechnology. I do agree that nanotechnology is still an emerging field but I believe that it will be of great importance in the near future and that regions should really try to invest in this technology.

When it comes to the methods used in the study, there were complicated formulas that were used. However, I’d have to say that the methodology was written well and very detailed. In the data analysis part, the explanations were a bit confusing because some of the sentences are so long that I tend to lose the thought in the middle of reading them ( :D). But, the good thing here is they provided illustrations of the results of the spatial distribution of nanomaterial patent applications. The figures helped me in understanding what the text was trying to say.

As for the formatting, the paper followed the basic format: introduction, methodology, data analysis, and conclusion. The statistical tables, I also noticed, followed the APA format and I must say that they looked organized even with the numerous data they presented. Finally, citations were found all over the paper. Whenever the authors used ideas from other authors, they always ended the statement/s with the citations.

The only negative thing I found about the paper is the complexity of the terms used. But hey, it may just only be me. :D

Thermoelectric and Solar Energy
Chris Gould and Noel Shammas
Staffordshire University, Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Technology
Beacon Building, Beaconside, Stafford, ST18 0AD, United Kingdom


This paper was in some way inspired by issues surrounding climate change. Solar energy, along with wind, biomass, wave and geothermal energy, is considered as a renewable form of energy. Thermoelectric energy can be used in power generation, cooling and refrigeration.

Back in the 1950s and until today, bismuth telluride was used as a material in energy production because of its thermoelectric effects at lower temperatures. Many other ways to improve the competitiveness of thermoelectric materials were developed. This includes increasing the electrical power factor, decreasing cost, developing environmentally friendly materials, and the use of functionally graded materials.

One issue in the use of thermoelectric materials is their availability. There are four main raw materials that can be used to generate thermoelectric energy but they are rare and may be toxic. There is an alternative, however, that is highly abundant but it has lower thermoelectric figure-of-merit (ZT).

Focusing now on solar energy, the materials for production are usually classified into first generation, second generation and third generation technologies. Third generation technologies aid in the development of future photovoltaic (solar) materials.

The paper recommended further research about finding alternative thermoelectric materials that are more abundant but cheaper than existing materials. It also recommended to make the ZT values of thermoelectric nanotechnology into practical devices. Furthermore, future researches are encouraged to look into nanotechnology as a tool in developing thermoelectric materials.


The paper was more of a historical type of research rather than a technical research because they did not perform any experimentation and relied majorly on their literature. Despite the paper lacking in methodology, I think that it is still acceptable because of the sufficient literature that they provided. I also found the topic interesting because of its currency and relation to our CS Research Methods theme.

As for the format of the paper, there were only two major parts: related literature and conclusion. There were no other parts of a “standard” paper but I think this has something to do with it being a historical paper. The conclusion and recommendation was drawn from the literature review they conducted and I think that the ideas were properly organized. The paper cited both the advantages and disadvantages of using thermoelectric and solar energy and I think that that is the result of a critical analysis of their literature. For me, this paper clearly demonstrates how important it is to gather, read and critically analyze the related literature of a study.


  1. Hi,
    I have an experienec of 6 years in the feild of computer science.3 years industry experience and for the last two years i am into teaching.
    Now, i want to do Phd but i m very much confused and tensed to select the topic.
    I am planning to select distributed systems as my research area, but i dont know whether this will be the right decision or not.Actually i dont have even any idea about distributed systems.
    Can plz suggest me how is this topic?will it be very tough to persue phd in distributed systems or will it be ok types?
    one more thing, will it require a lot of programming in distributed systems?
    An early reply will be highly appreciable.

    Thanks a ton in advance...

  2. There is a chance you qualify for a new government sponsored solar energy rebate program.
    Determine if you qualify now!

  3. eToro is the #1 forex trading platform for newbie and professional traders.